Mom's orchid
Mom's orchid

I found an item on watering orchids a few weeks ago.  Use 3 ice cubes weekly to water.  I have some in orchid pots with all the little holes around the outside of the pot. When you water these water runs out the holes and the plant doesn’t get anything. So weekly these are drugged to the sink and watered thoroughly and after draining well, put back in the windows. So far they seem happy and I have a few putting out flower stalks.  Mom has her orchids in 9 inch pots and needs 5 ice cubes to keep them happy.

Hos Exotic Twis
full of styrofoam when bought

I’ve now been using the ice cube watering method for several weeks now. Monthly I water with diluted worm compost tea.  All my orchids are still doing very well.  I also use the diluted worm compost tea to water all of my African violets weekly. It’s all natural,  kitchen scrap by product that doesn’t burn plants.

when bought only had moss

One thing that I would recommend when receiving a new orchid is to repot it. Most are in those clear containers inside another. Pull it out and if you see stryofoam or nothing but the Spanish moss, repot it. I bought one in full bloom recenlty and it did not have a single speck of potting bark, only a pot full of moss. People get these things as gifts, then they died on them and they get the attitude that I just can’t grow orchids.

25 replies to “Orchids

    1. Mona, I’m having the same problem. One is sneaking up from the creek and just digging up everything. I don’t know how many plants I’ve lost. It shoots back across the underground fence before the dogs can get it. I have a small animal trap I can drop by if you want to borrow it. I set it out and only caught squirrels. Oh I forgot that’s another hooligan story.

    1. Teresa it’s the liquid produced by the worms from kitchens scraps. I have a worm composter from can of worms that I keep in my garage and put the kitchen veggie, coffee and tea grounds, filters, newspapers in. I’m planning to do a post on composters and will put a picture of it in it. It has a drain at the bottom for taking the liquid out. Thanks for liking my site. Mary

    1. Teresa I usually trim it off just below above one of the joints. Sometimes it sprouts a new shoot with more blooms. If it starts drying up instead then I cut the whole stem off.

  1. Mary, I have to differ with you about re-potting newly acquires Phalaenopsis orchids as not all really need it. I have two awesome miniatures that are growing and thriving in Sphagnum Moss in ceramic containers and they have been in these pots since I bought them on clearance. Now Spanish Moss would be a reason to re-pot as it doesn’t hold a lot of moisture, but it is good as a top dressing. As far as a potting mix for Phalaenopsis goes, they do need more than just bark. I like to add medium sized chunks of tree fern fiber and Sphagnum along with charcoal to a fine and medium bark combination. The chunky texture allows for really great drainage and the tree fern and Sphagnum hold all the necessary moisture. Oh and those odd look plastic pots with the inverted cone in the bottom are really perfect for the Phals as well as other monopodal growth types of orchids as it keeps the base of the plant well above any collected moisture that could bring on rot.

    It is a very good idea though to slip the orchid, pot and all out of the cache pot and examine the roots. As long as they are healthy and in good condition I would not be in a hurry to re-pot the plant.

    JMHO, mine you and what works for me.

    1. I’ve purchased several that were packed in nothing but moss and some that had square chunks of Styrofoam and moss combination. I agree that if it is potted in the bark there is no need to re-pot, but the majority of those that I’ve purchased in my area come without bark. Thanks for visiting. Mary

  2. I have used the styro peanuts for drainage, but don’t like them because they are so light and are NOT environmentally friendly and the ones from extruded corn starch don’t hold up as they dissolve in water! Still if the roots are happy and healthy, it’s always best to leave the plant alone until it shows signs of new growth. Even the Phals take a rest and should not be re-potted while they are resting.



  3. Oh and again I forgot to mention the JUST ADD ICE Phalaenopsis. The way they are potted, from the medium to the cache pot they do extremely well with the 3 ice cube method of watering. The cubes melt slowly enough that the roots have time to absorb the moisture and any run off is caught in a reservoirs at the bottom of the cache pot. As it evaporates it keeps the roots moist and adds to the ambient humidity. This technique does not work with all types of orchid pots but it does in the case of this marketing technique and it has introduced many people to the joy of own, growing and blooming this species of Orchid. It should work well with clay pots since clay will absorb the water that the roots don’t get and this is beneficial to the plant.

    Personally I prefer to fully saturate the medium with free flowing water, but then I have time to go that extra mile.


  4. I use the ice cube method since I read about it on their site. I have some of their Phalaenopsis and they are potted correctly. Some of the big box stores in the area. have switched to a cheaper vendor which are potted in the moss. Some of the workers in the stores have never seen an orchid much less know that a plant is and usually have over water them. I usually check the roots now before buying as I’ve been burned when buying some that have been in the store for a while.

  5. I have rescued many and saved but a few because of root loss. Best method I have found is to bag them in a large zip lock bag with moistened Sphagnum and keep warm – but not too warm! when the roots are a good 2 to 3 inches long pot the plant using some of the same moss in the mix and a very small pot. Water carefully and monitor closely. Also set the potted plant inside the plastic bag, but don’t seal it. this will keep the humidity high and drafts away. The only other element needed is patience.

    I never pay full price for rescued plants and always check them over closely before buying them. Looking for insects (mealy bugs and scale) and for root rot and injured foliage that could also be infected with some virus. Most of my rescues come from Lowe’s where they at least ry to educate themselves on plant care! Wally World, not so much!

  6. Thanks for the advice. Our Lowe’s in MSC had an older lady that knew something about plants. She must have retired, as I haven’t seen her and the quality of care has gotten almost to that of Wally World. She may have gotten frustrated and decided to retire. One of the young workers was watering potted shrubs outside. She came took the wand telling her no, no, this is how you do it, then told her you come back in an hour and do it again. After she left the girl went back to doing it her way. I thought to myself, this kids not going to last long.

  7. Fortunately my local Lowe’s people are all young and the Dept Mgr also seems to know what they are doing and that alone helps. More stores need to really “know their products”, even the house plants. Of course, I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen! I think a lot depends on the customer’s expectations and if more of “us” would insist and expect these “box stores” to train their people or hire knowledgeable people in these specialty departments perhaps everything would improve all the way round. I also do not see that happening any time soon. Mores the shame for the real gardeners as well as the novices who can’t get qualified advice.

  8. Beautiful blog. Thanks for the tip of repotting orchids when received as a gift. Just don’t know what to put in the new pot, soil?

  9. Dear Hungry Tourist,
    there are several Orchid Potting mediums available, and if you can find one specifically for Phalaenopsis Orchids you will have better results, (I found some at Lowe’s last season), and you might even be able to find a clay “orchid pot” – they have either extra holes in the sides of the pots or long slots; these aid in rapid drainage of water as well as proper air circulation. Phalaenopsis orchids do not grow “in” anything as they are epiphytes or “Air plants” and live on the branches and trunks of trees that they use only for support. The roots of the Phalaenopsis have a velamen tissue layer that absorbs moisture from the air as well as rainfall (on the windowsill you can actually see this happen as the root changes color as soon as water touches it.) When you re-pot an orchid care should be take to not damage the roots – so water first as this allows the rooks to become supple, and re-pot only into the next larger size pot. If many roots have died, you might want to go one pot size smaller. You do want water to flow freely through the medium. {Btw, the ice cube method actually works better than many think, just be sure to pour the excess water from the cache pot before the next time you add the ice cubes.]

    Get a spray bottle and mist the plant several times a day; implement a gravel tray with water to increase the humidity around the plant, oh, and they like company, preferable others of their own kind, but grouping a small collection of plants together actually benefits them all by increasing the humidity around them. Plus it just looks nice!

    Phalaenopsis Orchids are addictive! Be warned!

  10. Mary, my new orchid has some tangled up, dried out growths coming out from the base of the orchid. are these roots? They aren’t pretty and I want to trim them off?
    Tell me what to do.
    Thanks, Martha S.

    1. Martha, are they dried up or just putting out roots? Here is a link to several discussions as to under or over watering, time to repot, etc. I’m having to re-pot my orchids due to the orchid mix. Last couple of bags of Miracle Grow looks composted like it was stored out in the weather. My local Lowe’s finally started carrying a good quality mix. This site has a good forum.

      Link: http://justaddiceorchids.com/ForumRetrieve.aspx?ForumID=2820&TopicID=7244&NoTemplate=False

  11. I had a orchid given as a gift 2 years ago it bloomed for several month when it stopped I cut the stem off about 3 inches from the bottom, it grew new leaves and stayed green forever but has never bloomed again . I was given another one and I would like to know how to prepare it so it will bloom again when it has finished blooming

    1. When you say stem, the stem the flower was on or the plant stem? If you cut the plant off then it may be a while before it blooms again. When it flowers and stem is still green, cut it off an inch or two & wait to see if it will put out a side shoot. If dries, cut the flower stalk off near the base, fertize half strength dilution and it should bloom again next winter.

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